Simply turning on our tap ensures we can enjoy the luxury of a long hot shower each morning and wash the mountains of dirty washing we have piled up each Saturday.
However, with water supplies dwindling, we all need to think about ways of reducing our consumption, and we can start in our very own home and garden.
IN THE HOME
Fixing a dripping tap is easy to do and can save a staggering 2,000 litres of water per month. You can save even more water by installing an aerator or a flow restrictor to your taps. These inexpensive devices use 50 percent less water than standard taps and you won’t even know the difference.
Leaking pipes can waste a huge amount of water. An easy DIY test to see whether your pipes are leaking is to switch off all taps and water-using machines (like a washing machine) in your home and check whether your water meter is still ticking over. If your meter moves over a 15-minute period, you most probably have a leak that needs to be fixed.
Install a dual-flush toilet. The most water-efficient types use only three to 4.5 litres of water per flush, compared to the older single flush toilets that use a wasteful 11 litres. However, if you are stuck with a water-hungry single flush toilet, you can help save water by putting a plastic milk container filled with water into your cistern -“ this will reduce the volume of water being flushed every time you push the button.
Leaking toilets are very common and can waste over 95,000 litres of water per year. To check to see whether your toilet is leaking, place a little food dye into the cistern and if the colour appears in bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, your cistern is leaking and needs repairing.
You can save over 21,000 litres of water per person per year when showering by installing an AAA showerhead and showering with a friend. Sydney Water is now offering a special deal where a plumber will visit your home and install a brand new water-saving showerhead for just $22. You can take up this offer online at www.sydneywater.com.au.
Dishwashers can use up to 40 litres of water per load. By using a dishwasher with at least an AAA rating, you can get this down to 18 litres per load. Also wait until you have a full load in your dishwasher before turning it on.
Washing machines can use up to 120 litres of water per load. They usually have a load adjustment button or dial and always try to set this according to the size of your washing. If your machine doesn’t have this feature, then try to wait until you have a full load of washing to do.
If you are planning to purchase a new washer very soon, always go for the AAAA or AAAAA rating, and consider a front loader washer which uses 40 percent less water than a top-loading washing machine.
Brushing your teeth doesn’t require you to have the tap running. Save over five litres of water each time you start cleaning those pearly whites by turning off the tap.
IN THE GARDEN
Only water the roots and soil around plants rather than spraying the leaves. A good soaking now and then will help make your plants healthier and more drought-resistant by encouraging deeper roots. And remember to water your plants only in the early morning or late evening -“ otherwise valuable water is evaporating rather than soaking into the soil.
A drip irrigation system is inexpensive and a great way to reduce water wastage by ensuring water goes directly to the roots. A forgotten sprinkler can waste more than 1,000 litres per hour. If you need to use a hose, then make sure it’s a trigger hose.
Try not to cut your lawn too short. When mowing, cut only the top third of the leaf area, leaving it three centimetres or higher. This means there will be more leaf area to protect the roots and soil from the sun.
Select drought-resistant grasses if you are planning a new lawn and carefully consider the size of your lawn. Grass can be thirsty compared with garden beds.
When planting new garden beds, group plants with similar watering needs together into water zones. Also choose local plant varieties which are more water-wise over exotic and water-hungry species.
Mulch your garden to protect your soil from evaporation and retain vital moisture. Mulch provides a great insulation between the soil and the sun and can save up to 75 percent of water that normally evaporates.